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The two words feared most by the Imposter Complex


Chances are, if you are a high-performing woman, you have experienced Imposter Complex at some point in your life and career — maybe at lots of points in your life and career. 

Remember, Imposter Complex is that enduring feeling that it’s just a matter of time before everyone finds out that you’re a fake. 

And you are not alone. It strikes MOST of us. If you have high standards for yourself, a desire for excellence, and a value of integrity, I suspect that at one time or another you’ve felt its power over you. And it IS powerful even when it presents as innocuous.


You are told: You are so committed to your yoga practice. It’s awesome and inspiring.
You respond: Yeah, well my handstand is a train wreck.

You are told: This pasta is exquisite.
You respond: Naw, I put in too much salt.

You are told: You are my go-to when I have a style question.
You respond: What? I’m a sloppy mess.

You are told: You’re a really great writer.
You respond: Ach. My sentences are fragmented.

When we undercut, diminish, and dismiss what we are being offered as a gift of acknowledgment, that’s the handiwork of the Imposter.

Why do we do it? SO.MANY.REASONS. Here are the ones flaring off like fireworks all around me lately::

  • We want to be in integrity and make sure that everyone has the “full story” about us. 

  • We are perfectionists not actually content with ANYTHING until it’s good enough (“for whom?” is the real question here).

  • We cannot perceive the real value of our contributions (especially if we're "naturally gifted" and haven't suffered for our art).

  • We have been raised to be humble above all else.

  • We are superstitious. That by accepting ownership over our excellence, we’re jinxing ourselves.

  • We do not want to commit the crime of outshining (fabulous term coined by Gay Hendricks).

I believe it is part of the work we are meant to do to unpack the whys behind our Imposter Complex so that we can move past them more quickly and easily when they arise so that we allow ourselves to step into our starring roles. 

Which is why I created the Starring Role Academy, as a place to learn and experiment and trust and lean into the work that will allow you to call out the Imposter Complex’s BS, build your own foundation of unshakeable confidence, and decide that you are ready enough to name and claim your starring role. 

Want to try it out…?

I have a simple baby step you can take right now, today, to feel what it feels like to stop diminishing, stop letting the Imposter Complex dictate your responses, and put one small baby toe towards stepping into your Starring Role.

Ready (enough)?

The next time someone dares to see you and share with you what they see in you, in your contributions, in your abilities — instead of showing them where they’re wrong (they’re not) try saying this:: 

Thank you.

That’s it.

Thank you.

No more, no less.

Thank you.

Neither discount nor deny their gift of acknowledgment. Just as you wouldn’t find fault with a gift given to you from the heart, so too should you not find fault with the acknowledgment. Accept it with the grace that only “thank you” affords.

The Impostor Complex despises this because you are, in two words, owning (or, at least, for the time being, BORROWING) the truth. You are doing good.  Full stop.

Added bonus:

Train your brain to say those words and you’ll be sending sweet synaptic love notes to your subconscious with this immutable fact: that you ARE worthy of praise and acknowledgment.

Because you are.

Sure, it’s possible that your handstand, pasta, and sentence structures could use a little more attention. (Which is awesome news for you and your high standards… you get another turn up the upward spiral called life in pursuit of excellence).  

But for this moment, this very moment, rest in the knowledge that you, your yoga practice, your pasta, your style, or your writing has moved, delighted, or even inspired someone. Saying Thank You locks and loads it.

And THAT is excellent.

When you try it this week, will you share it with me?  If you’re feeling bold, post about it on Instagram and tag me @TanyaGeisler so that I can celebrate with you! If you’re feeling tender, send me a private message on IG and we’ll have our own, private celebration.

Either way, take half a moment to celebrate the noticing and the shift. It’s more powerful than you might think.

And if you like the way that feels? You’re going to LOVE the next iteration of the Starring Role Academy. Click here to get on the VIP list and be the first to know when enrollment opens again.

Don’t confuse getting noticed with being seen.

Getting noticed is a wonderful feeling.Rousing, actually. A wake-up call to our capacity and maybe even our impact.

It’s that: “Hey, what you’re up to is attractive, alluring, enticing. I want to come a little bit closer.” It’s the raised eyebrow, wink + nod of “you’re on the right path, Love.” It’s the first step. It’s the foot in the door. It’s important.

It’s also fleeting. It does not endure. And it requires us to deepen in. To activate. To make it count.

For the moment that has you question your bravery.

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You were brave. You remember, don’t you?

No? Okay. Here it is. You were brave:

when you stayed.

when you left.

when you said, "No, but let’s try this."

when you said, "No, never."

when you said, "Yes, thank you. More, please."

when your wave to the cool kids wasn’t returned (and still, you kept your head high).

when you kissed the ground (even though you wanted to shake your fist at the sky).

when you stood up.

when you stood down.

when you kept writing, speaking, teaching, singing, preaching, going.

(even though...)

when you danced with the shadow (but didn’t go to second base).

when you were so worn out, but made it count anyway.

when you wore your heart on your sleeve (it SO brings out your eyes).

when you believed.

when you trusted.

when you knew that you knew.

when you raised your hand.

when you took the high road (and not just for the panoramic views).

when you didn't feel so hot in the bathing suit, but swam in the grace around you just the same.

when you made your dreams your mission.

when you shelved your dreams for someone else’s (though you’ll never do THAT again).

when you tossed your limitations into the volcano of your desires.

when you committed to your life.

when you kept your promise to others,

when you kept your promise to yourself.

when you kept your promise to your soul.

when you trusted how it felt (not how it looked).

when you kept showingupshowingupshowingup (even though the duvet beckoned).

when you forgave (REALLY forgave),

when you decided to stop deferring to others.

when you decided that enough was enough and that you were enough (oh, that was a good one).

when you risked it.

when you risked telling someone they matter.

when you decided it wasn’t too late, but also that it wasn't too soon to just.get.going.

when you chose collaboration over competition,

discernment over decisiveness,

generosity over guarantees,

curiosity over certitude.

when you tapped yourself in.

when you switched gears (even though everyone was watching).

when you chose to love.

when you chose joy.

and, when you chose you.

So, you see? you keep showing it. You keep showing us.

This Thursday, February 1 at 2pm EST,
I will be live on Facebook talking all things bravery. I hope you'll join me.

I'm Gonna Go Ahead and Skip the Middle Part

I'm Gonna Go Ahead and Skip the Middle Part

Respect your uniqueness and drop comparison. Relax into your being. – Osho

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It’s probably true. I’m wanting to reinvigorate my yoga practice, so when I had the chance this morning, I probably should have done the WHOLE yoga practice.

That would have been impeccable of me.

But my mind was restless and my heart was only half in it and my lungs had checked out and my body was bored and asking for more. Much more.

It wanted to shake and flail and release and stomp and pound and that’s how I ended up dancing (more like flailing clumsily) for 30 minutes, starting with Spirit of the West’s "Home for a Rest." (A mainstay of all Canadian wedding receptions everywhere. Turns the dance floor into a raving mob of high-stepping lunatics. Guaranteed.)

So I should have deepened my commitment to my practice and I should have worked on my arm balances and I should be well-deep into savasana by now.

But I didn’t. And I’m sweaty. Like... really sweaty.

Over the past ten years that I’ve been doing this work in the online space, I’ve been thanked for being approachable. Accessible. A model of grace in imperfection. I deeply appreciate the gifts of every last acknowledgment.

But I’m not gonna lie: every time I get thanked for the last bit, a part of me bristles.

The part that wants to be perfect. Impeccable, even. Committed to her yoga practice. Shiny-haired. Polished.

The part that still believes after all this time that those things matter.

Because that’s how the patriarchal system has worked, you see. For thousands of years. (Being the best mother, friend, sister, daughter, wife, careerist, etc. whilst looking impeccable wins all. With extra points for glowing, not sweating.)

And every time I bristle, I am surprised. Of COURSE I am. I know the system’s bullshit. You know it's bullshit.

And then I have to go through a process of all my own tools, including the one where I forgive myself for wanting to be impeccable.

It’s exhausting. And, frankly, just like my wise, wise body was bored of my yoga practice, I’m bored of it.

I spend a lot of time talking about the Impostor Complex. Because what’s happening is that people discount their gifts, attribute their successes to outside influences, and internalize their failures as proof of their incompetence. Fear of being found out means they stop short. They opt out of situations and opportunities that would have them living up to and into their potential.

Yeah. Painful.

But the other part of the story, of course, is that when we CHOOSE to don the mask (consciously or otherwise), then we ARE acting out of integrity. We ARE showing up as frauds. Because, well, we’re not showing up as we really are.

Here’s at least two things that DO.NOT.WORK:

“Be the person your client wants to buy from.” and live in fear that they’ll find out you’re a fraud and the trappings are a façade.

“Fake it ‘til you make it.” this may get you out of the house (a good start, to be sure), but it doesn’t get you off the hook of being your self.

So I’m gonna go ahead and skip the middle part where I continue to half-heartedly don the weighty mask of perfection only to discover (once again) that it doesn’t fit, if it ever did.

And go straight to the place where I can do my best work. Unencumbered by expectations of what is or isn’t perfect and reveling in the appreciation for the many, many gifts I have been given. Rooting into proof-positive about what IS true about my skills, talents, and capacity. And activating from there.

(Flailing clumsily as the case may be. Which is its own special kind of impeccability.)

Because the systemic issues that have contributed to the creation of this phenomenon boggle the mind in their vastness.

We will need our hands free from holding up ill-fitting masks so they can tear down the system. Brick by gilded brick.

Skip the middle part with me, will you?


The Truth of It.

I don’t like to write on my blog while I'm in the thick of processing.

When I’m processing, I’ll write in my journal or I’ll write pieces I only share in my sacred writing group, but here? This is different. We have a different understanding, you and I. Or, at least, I have a different understanding of how I am here to serve you.

Something happens in my realm. I roll it around on the counter - inspecting it, poking it, prodding it, walking away from it, coming back to it, and then sticking it into my oven of understanding where I crank up the flame of transmutation and out comes some fresh-baked perspective for me to offer you in the hopes that it nourishes and supports you in your process.

That’s how I see it.

And so, while I’ve been wanting so much to reach out to you, to speak to you, to share with you, the truth of it is that I’m still in the mess of processing some challenging life stuff. Poking, prodding, rolling it around.

The truth of it is that my father has been sick. And though today is still not the day to say more about that, I know it’s time to offer you some of what I do know to be true.

The truth of it is that the most days end with heart in my throat and a phone charged bedside just in case there’s a call, but the added truth of it is that I leave it on my husband’s side of the bed because that extra three feet of distance gives me space to breathe.

The truth of it is that I’m struggling to stay focused. I continue to bring my full self to my coaching clients, to my daughter, and to my father. But all else gets about 60 scant percent of my attention.

The truth of it is that I have dropped many plates. And am certain I will drop more.

The truth of it is that I don’t quite know where to direct my anger, so I shout a lot in my car when I’m alone.

The truth of it is that I’m doing a lousy job keeping people up to date because I am tired of having finding new ways to say: time will tell.

The truth of it is that I am scared.

The truth of it is that I want to write about release and I want to write about grace and I want to write about peace and life and love and transitions. But the truth of it is that none of this process has passed through that purifying flame of transmutation. Yet.

So the truth of it is that I can only share what I’ve always known.

When someone offers you support, accept it.

When someone drops by with food, cherish it.

When someone brings you a new meditation to explore, do it.

When someone suggests alternate nostril breathing, try it.

When someone sends you a video of them singing a Norwegian lullaby, embrace it.

When someone repeats Julian of Norwich’s words ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’, believe it.

The truth of it is that it will be hard. Because your heart won’t trust it even if your cells do. Your muscles and your adrenals will raise hell and fight you tooth and nail. And the stories you will concoct about what “well” means will keep you up at night.

So allow me to tell you the truth of it.

Well won’t mean pink light and roses and sparkles. Necessarily.

Well won’t mean like you planned or saw. Well won’t mean there won’t be worry. Well won’t mean that there will be control. Well won’t mean that there won’t be tears and prayers that reach far into the night that never get finished because you’ve fallen asleep (at long last).

Well will mean that the faith that you have cultivated and the relationships that you have nourished and the love that you have listened for and the light that you connect with will sustain you. Well will simply mean okay.

And okay will be well enough. For now.

That is the truth of it.

As I know it, deeply and intrinsically.

I’ll share the three ESSENTIAL elements of Unshakeable Confidence.

No secrets revealed because the truth is this: you already live and breathe these elements.

But after 90 minutes with me, you’ll LIVE from them.

And that’s when everything changes.